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Decision Making Roles and Process
The institution recognizes that ethical and effective leadership throughout the organization enables the institution to identify institutional values, set and achieve goals, learn and improve.
1. Institutional leaders create an environment for empowerment, innovation and institutional excellence. They encourage staff, faculty, administrators, and students, no matter what their official titles, to take initiative in improving the practices, programs and services in which they are involved. When ideas for improvement have policy or significant institution-wide implications, systematic participative processes are used to assure effective discussion, planning and implementation.
Ventura College strives to create an environment that promotes an open exchange of ideas, enhances participatory decision-making, provides an atmosphere of mutual respect, and offers a shared governance structure for our entire educational enterprise. As an institution we endeavor to fulfill our responsibilities to our students and maintain our vital role as an important entity within our community. The college promotes staff involvement and investment in the effective operations of the college and understands its importance. Thus, even though the college consists of various functional segments, students and the community view us as a single institutional entity. The quality of our service toward any community member reflects on the public's perception of our college as a whole. For this reason, the college community must perform as a unit greater than its separate parts.
Effective educational leadership requires us to provide a common vision to the college as a whole. The college community understands that it must achieve consensus of common opinion and mutual understanding in order to direct the college, spark growth and development, promote group activity, and evaluate institutional progress. Ventura College has strived to reach these goals through the creation of its mission and value statements (IVA-1).
Led by the Council for Institutional Development (CID) and its strategic planning document, "The College Plan," Ventura College undertook a lengthy collaborative and collegial effort to create our institutional mission, values, and goal statements in 1999 and to revise them in 2002 (IVA-2). While CID does not operate as a shared governance entity, every major constituency of the college community participated in reviewing, editing, and approving the created documents, including the institutional mission, values, and goals statements.
The college relies on the ten comprehensive goal statements generated by CID as the basis for much of the college's decision-making, performance evaluation, and resource allocation (IVA-3).
Since their creation in 2000, our college has prominently displayed the institutional goals in the Ventura College Catalog and on the college's Web site (IVA-4). The first goal addresses the college's commitment to "develop and maintain excellent educational programs and services." This goal, along with the other nine, resulted in a significant period of dialogue by a broad representative group, beginning in the Council for Institutional Development and continuing throughout the various college subsets such as the Academic Senate, the Classified Senate, the Administrative Council, the Department Chair Council, and the President's Cabinet. Many of the goals originated from dialogue at the department level and involved most employee subgroups. CID carefully created each goal to represent the college's commitment to important beliefs: access, technology, core values, institutional pride and support of the college's mission, development of partnerships, creation of a strong image reflective of the college's aspirations, enhanced financial strength, creation of new sources of revenue, and a commitment to continuous improvement through an ongoing collaborative planning process.
In addition to the common goals developed for the college, many individual divisions, department and support service centers developed their own strategic plans for promoting accomplishments, innovations, and quality improvements through compliance with the ten institutional goals and subset goal statements (IVA-5). For instance, in 2002-03, the Student Success Team and related support service departments utilized the college's goal statements as an evaluation tool to assess the fulfillment of our service quality "commitment to excellence" and to measure our annual program accomplishments (IVA-6).
To merely develop a set of static mission and goal statements does not ensure that the beliefs will become embedded in the consciousness of college staff or that they will become a part of their daily operations. The college understood this dilemma and sought proactive measures to remedy the difficulties. We believe that the broad based, collaborative process used to craft the college's goals helps to ensure that they are understood by most of the college's membership. While the college cannot ensure that every member of its staff possesses a clear understanding and commitment to each goal, the college has made significant efforts to keep the institutional goals at the forefront of our focus, including prominently displaying our mission, values, and goals statements at the front of our college catalogs and on the college's Web site.
Orientation of new employees provides the opportunity for exposure to and an appreciation of the mission, vision, values, and goals statements of the college. Periodic review of these statements takes place at the department and division levels as part of the ongoing planning process. With the loss of many full time academic, administrative, and classified support positions and the reliance upon a greater number of part-time employees, fewer staff members fully participate in the planning, implementation, and evaluation processes. The college places a significantly greater responsibility on its fewer full time employees who are expected to engage fully in institutional planning and innovation. The labor agreement between AFT and the VCCCD encourages organizational participation by adjunct faculty (IVA-7). Realistically, however, adjunct faculty has little time to commit to the planning process beyond the department or division level.
In 2001-02, the Staff Development Committee developed and implemented a new employee-mentoring program, which resulted in all new employees having access to a peer mentor throughout their first year of employment (IVA-8). College staff designed the mentoring program, in part, to facilitate a new member's entry into the college community. Through peer mentoring, the college introduced new employees to the expectation that they need to be "actively involved" in institutional improvement efforts. In addition, several divisions (Learning Resources, Health Sciences, and Physical Education/Health Education) established their own informal orientation and mentoring programs for new employees.
Under the leadership of the Staff Development Committee, staff orientation and staff development efforts have improved over the years. The college implemented several institutional opportunities for new employees such as new faculty orientations, new staff mentoring initiated by several divisions, strengthened flex day staff development offerings, etc. In addition, district personnel, over the years, have created numerous training opportunities in such areas as IT/Banner use, college finance, personnel conflict resolution, sexual harassment policies and procedures, retirement, and even teaching and learning programs. Additionally, the Extended Opportunity Program and Services (EOPS) office and the Associated Student's organization created and conduct ongoing program-level student mentoring programs.
Several methods exist whereby individuals within the organization can present ideas for institutional improvement. First, most ideas for improvement occur at the department level through department meetings. Most departments hold regular meetings led by a department chair, director, coordinator and/or dean. During these regular meetings, faculty and support staff are provided the opportunity to present ideas for program modification or growth. Also, in department meetings, faculty and staff discuss small and large program enhancements that may have broad-based institutional implications rather than be limited to the discipline or department. Since most innovations or suggestions for program improvement originate from the department level, the college provides employees ample opportunity to become fully engaged in department-level planning. When ideas or suggestions for program improvement contain significant institution-wide implications, they receive broad-based review through the college's organizational structure. Many times, departments or individual staff members present suggestions with campuswide implementations to the Council for Institutional Development (CID) for dialogue. The college created CID in 1997 to provide a forum for faculty, staff, and management to dialogue with the college president and others about issues that affect the college as a whole or that promote greater effectiveness of the college. Since the CID is a non-shared governance "think tank" type of body, suggestions for institutional improvement receive broad exposure and input from a significant cross section of the college community (IVA-9). Generally, institutional improvements travel through the established committee structure, with an eventual recommendation going to the President's Cabinet (IVA-10). The college intentionally designed the standing committee structure to ensure that all ideas, suggestions, or recommendations for institutional improvement receive effective, broad-based discussion, planning, and implementation (IVA-11).
If a recommendation for institutional improvement involves curriculum, the Curriculum Committee, a subcommittee of the Academic Senate, will review and make its recommendation through the President's Cabinet to the governing board. Should a curricular issue require districtwide review, the District Council for Student Learning (DCSL) will review and make recommendations before sending the issue to the governing board for final approval.
Ideas and human ingenuity fuel our college's growth and allow us to meet the ever-changing challenges involved in meeting student needs. The college has attempted to create an atmosphere that facilitates "continuous quality improvements" and allows ideas to flourish in all staff segments of the college.
Ventura College is proud of the fact that all employees, regardless of title or position, have the ability to engage in open and honest dialogue through the appropriate organizational network on any initiative designed to improve the practices, programs, and services in which they are involved. The college truly enjoys an environment that encourages dialogue, discussion, planning, and implementation while attempting to maintain an atmosphere of mutual respect through the values and goals statements recently revised by the college membership. The college demonstrates its commitment to institutional improvement by stating the following under "Innovation": "We recognize that change is constant and that it is imperative that we continually evaluate our performance and seek new and improved approaches to providing educational programs and services." The college's 2003-2004 Goal #9 states that we will, "Enhance the financial strength of the College by aligning its resources with its Mission and Goals, continuously improving operational efficiency, and acquiring new revenue sources." Goal #10 states that we will "continuously improve institutional effectiveness by defining a clear and distinctive mission. . ." Also, the college understands the importance of "establishing an ongoing collaborative planning process, maintaining participatory governance", and "gathering and utilizing relevant data to assess the college's progress toward fulfilling its mission and goals."
The college has developed an organizational structure through which all members of the organization can effectively participate, directly or indirectly, in the operation and decision-making of the campus. Over many years, and after much collaboration, the college has evolved into a structured organization that not only allows for but also encourages the participation of every employee in the on-going institutional evaluation and improvement process. Significant representation and membership participation exists for academic employees through their Academic Senate Council, classified employees through their Classified Senate Council, students through their Associated Student Government Council, and management through its Administrative Council, allowing all a part in the decision-making process. With rare exception, all collegewide decisions are finalized and adopted through the President's Cabinet. Ventura College is proud that the President's Cabinet contains representation from all employee groups and also includes the college foundation's executive director, who provides a much valued community perspective to our decision-making process. The college ensures the opportunity for full participation by every employee through the council and the standing committee structure.
Another example of the collegial environment that extends throughout the operation of the college involves the encouraged participation of our classified employees. Unlike many community colleges, Ventura College welcomes classified employee participation in our commencement ceremonies, and the college provides the Classified Senate president a prominent seat on the stage. Administrative managers and supervisors understand that classified employees shall be provided the time and encouragement to participate actively on standing and ad hoc committees through which their ideas, suggestions, and concerns can be openly and honestly expressed. A careful review of the membership of these committees supports the fact that Ventura College has developed a truly collegial approach to its decision making.
The classified employees at Ventura College participate in college decision making through several vehicles. The labor agreement between the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 535, AFT-CIO and the Ventura County Community College District, Article X, LEAVES, stipulates in 10.28 Release Time that "Employees covered by this agreement shall have release time for participation in a maximum of either one (1) course as addressed in section 10.25 above AND one (1) voluntary College and/or District committee OR two (2) voluntary College and/or District committees." The Classified Senate Council generally takes responsibility for coordinating, encouraging, and appointing classified employees' participation within the committee structure (IVA-12).
Unlike other classified employees, classified managers are not represented by the agreement between the SEIU and the VCCCD. Classified managers participate in college governance, institutional evaluation, and improvement processes though their daily interaction with their administrative supervisor, through their participation on standing and ad hoc committees, and through their participation at the managers and supervisors monthly meetings with the college president. These monthly meetings strengthen the organizational fabric and attempt to bridge any gap that may exist between the academic, classified, and executive levels of college leadership.
One of the vehicles encouraging new academic members to participate beyond the department or division planning level comes through the faculty tenure process, which is outlined in the labor agreement between the American Federation of Teachers and the Ventura County Community College District (IVA-13). This one to four year tenure review process contains, as one of its major evaluation components, the faculty member's involvement in college governance and professional development activities. Article 12.9 B. (2) Professional Responsibilities Evaluation stipulates that "the [tenure] committee shall assess the candidate's participation in institutional governance as outlined in Article 5.2 A (4)." This article of the labor agreement encourages faculty to participate in student support activities such as college and district committees, department and division meetings, curriculum development, and activities of faculty governance (IVA-14).
While the college has accomplished much to encourage and facilitate the involvement of all members of the college community in the innovation, implementation, and improvement processes, much remains to be done to ensure that all new employees understand and accept the expectation for collegewide participation. Through the efforts of the Staff Development Committee Mentoring Program, several instructional divisions (Physical Education and Health Education, Learning Resources, Health Sciences) have developed expanded orientations (IVA-15). Several years ago, Ventura College developed an orientation program for new adjunct faculty members that includes a comprehensive review of the standing committee structure and encourages adjunct faculty participation beyond the division level (IVA-16). While the college recognizes the efforts undertaken to create this orientation program, few faculty members take advantage of this opportunity. With the dramatic increase on the reliance of adjunct faculty for the delivery of student instructional programs and support services, the college needs a comprehensive orientation program for all new academic employees. Determining how to ensure that all new employees, academic and classified, receive adequate orientation and/or mentoring continues to be difficult. At this moment, Ventura College does not have such a program in place but is making significant progress toward such a plan through the efforts of the Academic Senate Council and the Staff Development Committee. Both groups conduct serious dialogue, review previous attempts, and are beginning to put together a structure that will form the foundation for a comprehensive orientation for all new faculty employees (IVA-17).
Ventura College prides itself on a collegial approach to decision making. While ample evidence exists to support the level to which members of the various employee subsets participate, no systematic review or analysis of this evidence exists to ensure (1) adherence to approved labor agreements with respect to employee participation, and (2) encouragement of universal participation in the planning process either voluntarily or as an understood condition of employment. In other words, the institution does not effectively analyze employee participation or the extent to which employees participate in the established discussion, planning, and implementation processes.
- The college should establish an ad hoc committee whose membership would include leadership from the Academic Senate Council, the Classified Senate Council, the Student Government Association, and the Administrative Council. This ad hoc committee would be charged with the responsibility for coordinating the final development of a comprehensive orientation for all new college employees. The collegewide review and refinement would occur before being presented to the President's Cabinet for adoption. Should the recommendation contain salary or working condition issues, the college would consult the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
- Aside from core orientation, the college leadership should adopt a policy by which all divisions or departments shall develop and implement an orientation program specific to the operation of their subset organization. Excellent examples being utilized by various departments already exist. Ventura College needs to ensure that all subset organizations have new employee orientation programs that share common elements and encourage institutional membership participation beyond the subset level. However, department's orientation programs need to focus primarily on familiarizing new employees with the operational structure and decision-making process within the department organization.
The development and implementation of collegewide and subset orientation programs will ensure that new employees fully understand the college's expectation of active participation in policy discussion, planning, and implementation for the college.
- Ventura College should develop a process through which it accurately tracks employee participation in the planning process. The college will conduct a comprehensive, annual review of standing and ad hoc committee membership participation to (1) to encourage voluntary participation as represented in the Values and Goals statements for Ventura College , and (2) ensure enforcement of employee obligations, per labor contracts. While Ventura College prides itself on the number of employees who participate at all levels, no tracking mechanism that would allow the institution to more effectively identify and guide personnel participation exists.
- Ventura College should encourage a continuation of the Staff Development Mentoring Program, which provides all new employees with a mentor during their first full year of employment. This Mentoring Program originally included an annual honorarium for such volunteer service. Efforts should be made to establish a consistent and reliable funding source for this mentoring program as an encouragement for staff participation and as a symbol of its importance to the college's continuing commitment to universal participation in institutional discussion, planning, and implementation.
- The college should implement a standard review process whereby each segment of the college inventories the status of existing efforts toward achievement of institutional goals as well as indicates new innovations and programs that further advance accomplishments toward reaching our institutional goals. This annual review could also include a renewal process in which old goals are assessed, revised, or eliminated.
2. The institution establishes and implements a written policy providing for faculty, staff, administrator, and student participation in decision-making processes. The policy specifies the manner in which individuals bring forward ideas from their constituencies, and work together on appropriate policy, planning and special-purpose bodies.
In significant ways, the Ventura County Community College District and its three colleges have taken a statewide leadership position in delineating the roles and functions of shared governance groups, especially in terms of the Academic Senate's role in academic and professional matters. The initiative and advocacy of Ventura College toward this important functional arrangement has produced a highly cooperative and effective consortium in matters relevant to academic affairs. The generally collegial relationships between the Academic Senate, the Classified Senate, and college management demonstrate this fact. The collegial relations in our governance structure often appear as well in our President's Cabinet, Department Chair Council, Curriculum Committee, and the numerous committees and individual relations on campus. The 2003 Accreditation visiting team detected this collegial relationship and cited it as a commendation item in their findings (IVA-18).
The Ventura College Strategic Decision Process, as outlined in The College Plan 2000-2003, provides a clear flow chart for decision making on the college campus (IVA-19). While the Council for Institutional Development developed the flow chart with the intention that it be distributed and discussed campus wide, a significant number of college employees are not fully aware of its existence as it has not been widely distributed.
Ventura College 's governance structure effectively integrates its cabinet, council, and committee structure. Participation in the governance process takes place at many levels and in virtually every department on campus. The college pays serious attention to ensuring that all members of the college community are provided the opportunity to participate fully in the governance process.
The VCCCD Board Policy Manual, which first described governance participation for faculty, reads, in part, as follows: "the organization of Academic Senates is authorized for the purpose of providing the faculties of the colleges with a formal and effective procedure for participating in the formation of district policies on academic and professional matters." The college regards this policy manual as one of our most important and defining governance documents. At Ventura College , the empowerment and reliance upon the Academic Senate for academic and professional matters has created a structure that most regard as both dynamic and positive. Furthermore, Ventura College prides itself on the fact that it provides release time for one adjunct Academic Senate Council member to serve as a representative for part-time issues.
The Board Policy Manual provides a template for faculty participation in the governance of the college campus. The policy states that the district will consult "collegially with the Academic Senate, using the method described in Section 53200 part (d) of Title V which states: the district governing board, or such representatives as it may designate, and the representatives of the academic senate shall have the obligation to reach mutual agreement by written resolution, regulation, or policy of the governing board effectuating such recommendations" (IVA-20). The policy manual outlines how faculty participates in governance with regards to the following areas:
- Degree and Certificate Requirements
- Grading Policy
- Educational Program Development
- Student Preparation and Success
- District and College Governance Structures, as Related to Faculty
- Faculty Roles and Involvement in Accreditation Processes
- Policies for Faculty Professional Development Activities
- Processes for Program Review
- Processes for Institutional Planning and Budget Development and
- Other Academic and Professional Matters as Mutually Agreed Upon (IVA-21)
For each of the eleven identified academic and professional matters, an assigned district council and college committee facilitates the shared governance process. For example, with regards to curriculum, the policy manual assigns the District Council of Student Learning and the campus Curriculum Committee as the shared governance bodies through which decisions on matters related to curriculum are made. Faculty and management jointly developed the facilitating bodies, which were adopted and implemented in 1989.
The policy manual provides additional evidence of the district and the college's commitment to "shared governance" as it designates (1) senate presidents to serve as members of the Chancellor's Cabinet, and (2) senate presidents or designees to participate as members of district councils, with one faculty member serving as co-chair of each committee.
The policy manual also stipulates that Section 53203 of Title 5 provides that the governing board may only change policies regarding academic and professional matters in mutual agreement with the senate or after a good faith effort to reach agreement on compelling legal, fiscal, or organizational matters. Appendix AI of the Policy Manual defines the process by which fiscal hardship, legal liability, and organizational reasons will be determined. On a few occasions over the past decade, the governing board and the Academic Senate at Ventura College have not been able to reach mutual agreement.
The Ventura College Academic Senate meets twice each month and includes faculty representation from all departments on campus. The Executive Committee of the Academic Senate, which is elected for one to two-year terms, consists of the senate president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer. The Executive Committee meets on a monthly basis with the college president and the senate president serves a member of the President's Cabinet. The Ventura College Academic Senate annually receives 2.0 full-time equivalent faculty (FTEF) reassigned time, which the executive committee allocates through mutual agreement with the college president to various faculty members for participation in governance matters. The senate allocates most of the reassigned time to the elected members of the executive committee, though, on occasion, other faculty members have received reassigned time in support of governance activities. The significant amount of reassigned time serves as evidence of the college's commitment to participatory governance.
The By-Laws of the Academic Senate document the procedures for faculty participation in the governance process (IVA-22). The Academic Senate makes faculty appointments to all district and college standing committees, except where the labor agreement specifically stipulates appointment by the American Federation of Teachers, Local 1828 (IVA-23).
A problem within a multi-college district occasionally arises, however, when the colleges' academic senates do not achieve consensus on a districtwide issue prior to taking the issue to the governing board. While the board policy manual, through the eleven-point agreement, stipulates which district council should facilitate such a conflict, oftentimes the role of the district council and the way in which the council fully expresses minority opinion remains unclear.
With a few exceptions, the district and colleges over the past 24 years have utilized and effectively operated the process as outlined in the board policy manual. However, as the district and colleges have changed the council and/or the committee structure over the years, the board's policy manual has not reflected those changes. The board, the district, and the colleges, though, understand that the role of faculty, as it relates to "academic and professional matters," has not substantially changed since it was first adopted in 1989. The district and the colleges recently completed an updated board policy manual, but it has not been brought before the governing board for adoption.
As evidenced earlier, faculty also directs decision-making participation, as outlined in the labor agreement between the American Federation of Teachers, Local1828 within Article 5.2 A (4). This article stipulates that contract faculty has "five hours per week service for instruction-related student-support activities." Article 5.2 A (4) (k) stipulates that one of eleven such "activities" may include "faculty governance."
Ventura College possesses a well-defined and widely articulated plan for faculty involvement in the decision-making process, and this plan continues to be one of the outstanding and consistent strengths of the institution.
With regard to the classified staff, however, neither a clearly defined written process nor a well-articulated informal process exists for participation in the governance process. The board policy manual makes vague reference to classified representation under Section A.17: "one classified representative from each college shall be elected to attend board meetings" (IVA-24). While this statement does not provide any clear intention as to how or if classified staff will participate in the decision-making process, the governing board does include, as a standard agenda item, a report from the classified representative.
Given the lack of a clearly articulated districtwide plan for classified participation in institutional governance, Ventura College has developed its own plan. The classified support staff at Ventura College enjoys full participation in the decision-making processes and is well represented by their Classified Senate Council. Through the Classified Senate Council, classified staff members have the opportunity to participate in the campus governance process. The Classified Senate Council has broad-based representation and through its by-laws provides written policies and procedures through which the membership participates in the governance process. The Classified Senate elects its own leadership, and the Classified Senate president serves as an active member of the President's Cabinet. In consultation with the college president or as stipulated in the SEIU/VCCCD labor agreement, the Classified Senate appoints classified staff representatives to all standing committees that are not subcommittees of the Academic Senate ( IVA-25).
The Classified Senate's by-laws and the SEIU labor agreement provide general direction for the participation of classified support staff in participatory governance. However , at the department level and through departments' organization structures, the college ensures that all classified staff has an active voice in department or collegewide decision making. A recent informal survey done by the classified staff revealed that classified support staff fully participates in the discussion, planning, and program implementation process of virtually every subset division on campus. The college recognizes all support staff employees as vital participants in the monthly meetings of the departments for which they serve. While the principle mission of Ventura College centers on teaching and learning, the college believes in a universally accepted and highly respected understanding that institutions of learning need the direct input and daily support of its many classified staff members if it hopes to succeed. Ventura College prides itself on its classified staff participation at the department level, throughout the college's committee structure, and at the President's Cabinet on which the Classified Senate president serves. Ventura College recognizes all employees, regardless of title or position, as valuable members of the college community, and the college regards their participation in the decision-making process as essential to the successful of our mission.
While both the college and the by-laws of the Associated Students of Ventura College encourage student involvement in the governance and the decision-making process of the college, students do not participate to the same extent as employee groups. However, Ventura College demonstrates its commitment to student involvement in participatory governance by including the elected president of the Associated Students of Ventura College (ASVC) as a permanent member of the President's Cabinet. The college, through appointments by the ASVC president, also provides students with membership on all standing committees of the college. Article II, Section A, General Duties of All Elected Officers and Appointed Officers of the student by-laws directs its officers "to serve on at least one Ventura College standing committee." Ventura College embraces the concept that the student perspective is valuable and, therefore includes students in the participatory governance process where appropriate. However, in reality, students participate at many committee meetings on a sporadic basis. The President's Cabinet serves as the primary vehicle for the college to receive consistent student input as the ASVC president actively participates and provides the student perspective on most collegewide issues.
Students from Ventura College and our sister colleges actively participate and promote student positions on matters before the governing board through their elected Student Representative to the Governing Board. All three associated student organizations within the district meet on a regular basis with the board's Student Representative, which further facilitates student involvement in the decision-making process. While the board considers the vote of the Student Representative to be advisory only, the vote allows students the opportunity to voice their position on districtwide issues and provides the board the opportunity to benefit from the student perspective. Additionally, the ASVC president at Ventura College attends the monthly governing board meetings, and the board provides him or her the opportunity to report to the board on matters of direct interest to students at Ventura College .
The administrative team, through weekly participation on the Administrative Council, actively participates in the governance process. Administrative Council membership consists of all academic managers, including the college president. The executive vice president and the vice president co-chair the council and also serve as members of the President's Cabinet. The college demonstrates the value of the faculty and classified role in participatory governance by including the Academic Senate and Classified Senate presidents as members of the Administrative Council. The Administrative Council sends its recommendations to the President's Cabinet for consideration and possible adoption.
The college includes non-academic managers and supervisors in the governance process through their participation in department meetings, in periodic meetings with their immediate supervisors, and through monthly meetings with the Administrative Council.
Individual governance participation generally begins at the department level. All departments operate with faculty department chairs, who are selected by the department faculty and who serve the department for a two-year period. Some departments also elect a department vice chair, an option provided for in the labor contract. The vice chair serves on an annual basis and assists the chair with specific duties and functions. Department faculty determines the duties of the department chair and vice chair, with attention given to the general guidelines listed in Article 13 of the labor agreement (IVA-26). A few departments operate with faculty coordinators or directors who serve in a similar capacity as a department chair but who are appointed by the college president. Immediate supervisors determine the duties and responsibilities of a faculty coordinator or director (IVA-27).
All department chairs, vice chairs, coordinators, and directors serve as members of the Department Chair Council. This council meets on a monthly basis and provides yet another vehicle through which faculty actively participate in the governance process. College management also participates at the department chair council, which provides further evidence of the college's collegial approach to decision making. The college considers this interfacing of management and faculty departmental leadership to be extremely valuable to the effective two-way communication and operation of our academic and student support programs. The intersection of faculty department leadership and management provides one of the pivotal forums on campus since it forms a crosswalk from which faculty and management leadership can dialogue about important college issues and, oftentimes, reach consensus. While the Department Chair Council is not a decision-making body, this council is instrumental in providing an opportunity for faculty leadership to set campus agenda, problem solve, provide valuable input, and dialogue on significant issues related to teaching and learning.
Department chairs, coordinators and directors schedule regular meetings of their department membership at which department planning and decision making takes place. Members of the department, faculty, management, and classified staff actively participate in these meetings. The college encourages adjunct faculty members to participate in these meetings even though their contract does not require that they do so. The college commends the commitment on the part of our adjunct faculty to play an active role in the governance of the department. The labor agreement stipulates that adjust faculty be compensated for their participation in department meetings, however, such compensation is minimal.
Much of the college's shared governance process takes place through standing committees that direct specific functions or provide oversight. Membership on standing committees consists of the college's academic, classified, student, and administrative units. The college gives careful consideration to the membership of each standing committee to ensure balanced, broad-based representation. Each committee functions with a specific charge and a membership listing (IVA-28). Committee members generally select the chair of each committee, with the chair usually serving a one-year term. The college often attempts to limit committee membership to prescribed term limits to encourage fresh ideas and to give others the opportunity to serve. The President's Cabinet annually reviews all standing committee purpose statements and memberships.
Ad hoc committees function as special-purpose bodies. Sanctioned by the President's Cabinet, these committees usually operate for a limited duration and address a limited scope. The college does not generally consider ad hoc committees to be part of the standard governance process but instead are viewed as valuable tools for the development of new ideas, concepts, policies, or procedures. An ad hoc committee generally reports its findings to an appropriate standing committee or council for consideration. A standing committee or council usually establishes ad hoc committee membership in consultation with the college president.
Colleges typically predicate effective shared governance on the ability of individual staff members to understand their roles and responsibilities in the totality of the college operation. Since the college did not widely distribute the 2000 Strategic Decision Process flow chart developed by the Council for Institutional Development (CID), a significant gap exists between the understanding of how departments or divisions operate and how institutional decisions are made. In order for cooperative and participatory governance to occur, the college needs to ensure that its employees understand the process by which individuals make contributions as well the process the college uses to make larger, collegewide decisions.
On an institutional basis, college staff members possess a clear and fully operational understanding of their job responsibilities as they relate to their employment. They possess this understanding, in part, due to the institution's comprehensive development of job descriptions, lines of supervisory reporting, employee classifications, salary schedules, periodic classification, and out-of-job classification reviews. However, knowledge of duties does not automatically lead to an understanding each employee should possess of his or her institutional role. Intuitively, employees know how their efforts help students and contribute to the college operations. To enhance this awareness and promote group cohesiveness, the college needs to undertake numerous staff development efforts and engage in divisional/group activities that reinforce personal responsibility toward achieving institution goals.
Written policies for the Ventura County Community College District and Ventura College serve to clarify, confirm, and standardize policy issues. As illustrated
by the documents cited above, a variety of written policies exist that encompass a range of issues for various college constituencies. While each of these institutional documents has significant utility, they mainly consist of policy manuals, collective bargaining agreements, personnel policies, and /or those related to governance relationships. The written policies at Ventura College are not necessarily sufficient to meet our diverse college needs or the multitude of planning and policies that require common interpretations among staff and "sun shining" to the entire campus. In reality, the college initially created several of our written policies to clarify issues that may have been controversial or caused conflict with differing campus groups. In spite of this somewhat dubious origin, the college believes that having specific details based on written policy, established written processes, and clarity on negotiable issues has been advantageous to all concerned.
Given the institutional goal of creating a collective, inclusive, and collegial governance style for our college operations, the college recognizes that many unresolved governance issues warrant further attention such as committee roles and responsibilities, decision-making authority, communications, and staff perceptions. Since there is widespread participation in the governance process from all employee groups and with students through various cabinet, councils, senates, standing committees, and at the department/division level, the college understands that any institutional improvement is the result of a significant collaborative effort of all representative groups. However, while the shared governance process extends to the discipline/department level, the college relies primarily on the Curriculum Committee, Administrative Council, Department Chair Council, Academic Senate, Student Success Team, and the President's Cabinet to provide group review and evaluation in matters related to the enhancement of student learning.
As mentioned earlier, several years ago the Council for Institutional Development (CID) created an overall campus governance/decision-making flow chart, partially in response to inquiries about the function of CID itself. This detailed college flow chart proved very useful in clearing up some prevailing questions about college committee responsibilities, authority, and decision-making procedures. However, at present, many at the college do not know of its existence or acknowledge it as authoritative. In spite of CID efforts, the college still lacks an overall understanding of how shared governance decisions are processed and determined, especially those that relate to budget. While most essential shared governance components are in place, questions remain about how the college accomplishes the overall process of decision making and who has been given responsibilities and authority. A new and updated document that outlines overall shared governance review procedures and decision-making processes might greatly alleviate some lack of information, misperceptions, or just plain confusion.
As previously stated, the college primarily conducts its overall campus strategic planning through CID, but institutional planning occurs in other areas as well. Our CID functions as a "think tank" and in an "advisory" capacity rather than in a shared governance or representative role. However, many staff members on campus do not fully accept CID's responsibility, especially in terms of decision making or how the committee might influence finite campus fiscal resources. The overall roles and responsibilities of the Council on Institutional Development remain unclear in the overall scheme of college operations. The college membership, as a whole, does not understand well how the CID group interrelates with other established shared governance and special interest groups on campus. In other words, policy issues related to the function and expectation for our CID group warrant further clarification and likely written declaration. In the past, CID attempted to clarify this concern through the development of a decision-making flow chart, which was evidenced earlier. However, as indicated by our 2003 visiting accrediting team observations, the issue still remains unresolved on campus.
The college membership widely acknowledges the President's Cabinet as a decision-making governance structure. Based on the lack of dissent or controversy derived from their decisions thus far, the college community, at large, readily accepts this important shared governance entity's responsibilities. For instance, the Administrative Council reviews most campus recommendations for institutional changes and quality improvements and forwards them to the President's Cabinet, which renders final determination on the funding of innovations. Also, if a recommendation for institutional improvement involves curriculum, the Curriculum Committee, a subcommittee of the Academic Senate, will also review and possibly make recommendations to the Administrative Council, if significant fiscal considerations exist. When an implementation is of a particularly significant nature, the Academic Senate Council will also review the recommendation and make their wishes known to the President's Cabinet. However, some college employees have noted some dissatisfaction with the President's Council in one aspect: a lack of communication in regard to meeting agenda, follow-up recommendations, or notification of actions taken. Many times, the stakeholders of institutional ideas or concerns that reach the President's Council for determination are left uninformed when their issues are being reviewed or if decisions have been rendered. The President's Newsletter has improved this situation somewhat; however, the agenda or actions of the council are not always included as standing topics of the publication information.
Another effort the college implemented to better institutionalize our mission and goal intentions into practical operations came in the form of a custom-tailored computer software program named the "Ventura College Planning Utility," which was mentioned earlier in this report. The college employed the services of a Web-based software development firm to provide us with a computer program that could formalize our missions and goals into individual "action plans" for future implementation. The college provided each segment, whether a division/department or an individual staff member, an opportunity to submit action plan proposals or new ideas for institutional improvement review and consideration. Theoretically, decision making entities on campus would collectively review each action plan, and they would ultimately become an area to be funded. The Ventura College Planning Utility contains some distinct advantages in that it provides a collective and overall college-planning document that is written, fluid, and easily accessible to the entire college community through our internet/intranet network system. Unfortunately, because of major delays and glitches in the software program, some of the initial momentum for this project dissipated and, to date, the project has not been fully implemented as originally conceived. Thus far, the college has been able to utilize the planning utility on a limited basis, inputting over forty-plus division, department, and office "action plan" proposals, which encompass a clearinghouse of institutional ideas and innovations.
The Curriculum Committee, a subcommittee of the Academic Senate, includes faculty membership from all departments/divisions across the campus. The Student Success Team contains representation from all areas of student services while the President's Cabinet contains leadership representatives from faculty, classified, and management. All three bodies include student representatives as well. While the college encourages student participation, students attend committee meetings sporadically. Low student participation stems from a combination of logistical obstacles and a lack of student empowerment. Obviously, with student class scheduling, inherent difficulties exist with trying to schedule college committee meetings with academic and extracurricular responsibilities. Aside from scheduling issues, the ability to get meaningful participation from student leaders in standing shared governance committees sometimes proves challenging. Student representatives, who are oftentimes new to leadership roles, tend to be hesitant or even shy about "speaking up" in group settings. When student leaders are not fully oriented to committee objectives, current projects, or historical perspectives of recent institutional actions, this tendency toward marginal involvement becomes more pronounced. The college has attempted to facilitate student involvement in the college through leadership instruction and orientations provided in a mandatory student leadership course and by assigning "volunteer staff" mentors to new student committee members to transition them into committee activities. While both efforts have shown some merit, neither has been fully organized or consistently executed to resolve the prevailing concern.
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